Friday, January 8, 2016

Jesus is Concerns about What You Believe: Be Open and Closed (1 John 4:4-6)

The false prophet said that the people were being "slain in the spirit." But there is no such term "slain in the spirit" in the Bible. Anyone who had really been 'slain' by the Spirit were Ananias and his wife (Acts 5:1-11)... but they died.
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people [false prophets], because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception
(1 John 4:4-6, NLT, bracket mine).

[Read previous posts to know the context of this text]
The Apostle John now turns to talk about the audiences that listen to true and false teachers. Each verse in this text begins with a strong word: “You” (verse 4), “They” (verse 5), and “We” (verse 6). Here John reminds his readers that they need not fear the heretic or the false prophets with the false spirits, since Jesus Christ has all power over evil. Because of Jesus we “already won a victory” and through Him the Holy Spirit lives in us. As for now, the false teachers are flourishing. Why? Because they “speak from the world’s viewpoint” mixed with Christianize messages. Because the false prophets speak what people want to hear, “the world listens to them.” But not so with us – we “belong to God.” We only want (and should) listen to “the truth about Jesus” of the Bible (4:3). In the long run, the false teachers cannot win. We have the greater power in us, greater than the one who rules the present world.

False teachers are obviously not of God but are of the world. Such people may act well and look religious. They sometime act like good people (some even quite sincere), speak nicely and well behave externally. But on the inside, they don’t know God and full of lies. It’s all a cover-up, temporary masks designated to fool people. They preach “prosperity”, “hyper-grace,” “health and wealth”, “positive confession” and the opposite of them all – “legalistic Law.” False teachers appear to look like men and women of God, but actually they have “the spirit of deception”! They only interested in your money, applause from people, fame and names for themselves. People who are not true believers will flock to listen to these false teachers because they rather “follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). On the other hand, those who believe in God will listen to the sound and wholesome Christian message (as oppose to 2 Timothy 4:3). They are open to the truth because God’s Spirit helps them to listen and understand it.  

So we can test the spirits (1 John 4:1) not only by their message but also by the kind of audience that listens to them. If people who are not interested in God or His Word are following a particular person of belief, the teacher is probably not of God. But if the followers are open to God’s Word and want to learn more about God and His Son, Jesus Christ, it is more likely that God’s Spirit is involved. ”That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.”

To sum up, the Apostle John is telling us how concerned he is – because Lord Jesus is concern –that we must be very careful about what we believe. There are all kinds of faiths and religious in this world – from those that are mostly talk only to those that are mostly emphasis on feelings, from the most simpleton to the most complex and bizarre. Thus, if we are open to learning we may find ourselves being led astray from what is true, since some false religions try to look and act so much like the true Christian faith. Friends, we must be careful not to be gullible – believing everything we hear and see. “You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God” (1 John 4:1) or not. Just as there are fads in clothing and gadgets, there are fads and cults in religion. They are not all to be accepted or believed. Again, put everything to the test – be careful about what you believe. Amen.


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